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Vaccinations - Garbage In/Less Than All The Garbage Out?

One of the many questions troubling those of us concerned about vaccine safety and their use is just exactly where that which is injected (or ingested or inhaled) goes after it enters the body.  Unfortunately this question doesn't even seem to enter the radar screen of many who promote vaccination.

It seems to be taken as an article of faith that lack of resolution via a rash is inconsequential.  Yet there is evidence to the contrary.  For instance, Tove Rønne reported in The Lancet that those who get measles without rash experience considerably more serious disease in adulthood than do those who get measles with rash. 

Nor is concern generally shown for the fact that the ordinary systemic mechanisms for ridding the body of disease, like fever, do not necessarily come into play when vaccines induce their so-called "protective" response.

So it should come as no surprise, I suppose, that even when the question does come on the radar screen, the discussion is less than adequate.  Take, for example, The Lancet's November 2002 article by the financially conflicted Pichichero and his colleagues entitled, "Mercury concentrations and metabolism in infants receiving vaccines containing mercury: a descriptive study". The "study" alleged to measure what happens to one of the many substances which are put into the body via vaccines.  But it turned out to be yet another fluff piece designed to vindicate a vaccine (or an additive), rather than to seriously examine the issue.

In the study, it was concluded that "Administration of vaccines containing thiomersal (thimerosal) does not seem to raise blood concentrations of mercury above safe values in infants. Ethylmercury seems to be eliminated from blood rapidly via the stools after parenteral administration of thiomersal (thimerosal) in vaccines."

Given that there is no known safe amount of ethylmercury, the form of mercury in thimerosal, their starting assumption that there is a safe level of mercury in vaccines is unjustified and irresponsible.

Furthermore, this study does not provide convincing evidence that mercury is rapidly eliminated.  Among the reasons why are the following:

The authors merely averaged, from a range of doses, what each infant theoretically received when they reported: "Mean mercury doses in infants exposed to thiomersal (thimerosal) were 45.6 microg (range 37.5-62.5) for 2-month-olds and 111.3 microg (range 87.5-175.0) for 6-month-olds". 

They averaged fecal output as well:  "Concentrations of mercury were low in urine after vaccination but were high in stools of thiomersal-exposed 2-month-olds (mean 82 ng/g dry weight) and in 6-month-olds (mean 58 ng/g dry weight)."

However, average input and average output have nothing to do with what has happened to a particular child. Moreover, using statistics about average children to draw conclusions about individual children is misuse of statistics.

Assuming exposure to only one source of mercury, i.e., the ethylmercury in vaccines, the only way to know whether or not 100% of  the mercury has been excreted is to measure the amount of mercury contained in the syringe used for each infant (as opposed to a theoretical amount, assuming equal distribution per vial and/or syringe),  and compare that to what comes out.  Precise identification of the actual amount injected into each individual child, combined with a comparison to the actual amount eliminated, did not occur in this study.  Thus no conclusions, other than that some portion appears to be evacuated, are warranted.

Unfortunately, however, one cannot assume exposure to only one source of ethylmercury, particularly given the many potential sources of it.  And unless all sources are accounted for, output cannot be accurately compared to input.

Further complicating the situation is the fact that ethylmercury is "eventually metabolized into inorganic mercury".  If it is also true that "adult marine mammals can mineralize methylmercury into inorganic mercury", and fetuses and newborns might be exposed to "inorganic mercury (originating from dental amalgam) during fetal life and via breast milk (up to 3 months)", it means that more than one form of mercury exposure can result in inorganic mercury in the stools, including that derived from vaccines.  It also means that the total potential for exposure is considerable. 

All mercury exposure with the potential to be excreted as inorganic mercury needs to be factored in if the goal is understand the amount of mercury which remains in the body. ; No such effort was made in this study.

The study authors also framed the discussion in terms of micrograms going in and nanograms coming out.  How exactly, though, do "nanograms per gram of dry weight" evacuated via the stools, with each nanogram equaling 1/1000th of a microgram,  translate into micrograms which have been directly injected?  Given how miniscule a nanogram is compared to a microgram, it sounds as if very little may actually have been excreted. 

Because of the political import being assigned this study, it also bears pointing out that the sample size was but a mere 40 infants receiving vaccines containing thimerosal. No one is suggesting, though, that 1 in 40 children are autistic.  Chances are there was not even one child included in this study who went on to develop autism.  Thus this study is not relevant to whether or not mercury might be related to autism.

Might it not be precisely those specific infants (as opposed to the average or "mean" infant) who do not eliminate all the mercury they receive who are at risk for autism?  After all, it is specific infants, not average ones, who get autism.  If so, what could this "study", which only looked at 40 infants, possibly have to do with the 1 out of 250 or so with autism?

If the amount that went in cannot be entirely accounted for, where did it go?   Given that, as they noted in the article, "organic mercury  readily crosses the blood-brain barrier" (thimerosal being an organic form of mercury), might it not have gone to the brain, where it would be expected to cause just the kinds of problems we are seeing with autistic children?

Unless the amount of mercury going in and out of each individual child is measured precisely, absolutely nothing will be learned about the amount retained in a given child and any conclusions drawn unsupported by the evidence. Why would The Lancet publish an article which is so poorly designed, misleading, and clearly lacking in logic and depth of analysis?  Isn't it more like propaganda than research?

When will the mainstream press begin to act more responsibly, thoughtfully and professionally? When will they stop accepting "studies" like this more or less at face value and giving little more than "lip service" to opposing viewpoints?

Sandy Gottstein

Date: 1-17-2003              

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." - Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), paraphrasing John Philpot Curran (1808)